Stephan Romeder Magic Software Europe : Companies invest a lot of time, effort and money in developing systems to power the supply chain: Warehouse Management Systems, Transportation Management Systems, Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) platforms and a myriad of other solutions. The amount of data can be overwhelming. However, by connecting data and using an integration platform to orchestrate business processes between systems, data can be the differentiator that enables companies to disrupt processes to increase efficiencies and provide a superior customer experience.
To keep the supply chain working at top efficiency, companies not only need a flexible and adaptable culture – but also a highly adaptable underlying IT infrastructure.
Here are seven examples of how integrated data can introduce new efficiencies into the Supply Chain:
1. Better Demand Forecasting – Better coordination between ERP and sales systems can result in more accurate forecasts, leading to more efficient ordering and improved margins. Demand-driven logistics based on accurate data reduces transportation costs and inventory while improving competitive advantage by enabling companies to provide better customer service.
2. More Comprehensive Planning – Integrated data enables the Supply Chain Manager to make decisions based on a comprehensive and accurate picture of supply-chain related activities across the organization (e.g. Sales, Marketing, Product Management, Manufacturing, Warehousing, Procurement, Finance, and Transportation). For example, a distribution center can aim to have a high fill rate, but if the cost of fulfilling orders is too high, it will sabotage sales profit margin goals. The Supply Chain Manager needs a comprehensive view of all of logistics related activities to ensure that orders are fulfilled in the most economic and efficient manner.
3. Segmenting Supply Chains – It’s possible to over service some customers exceeding expectations while providing less than satisfactory service to strategic or high-volume customers. Integrating data between your CRM and ERP systems can enable you to easily segment your customers and products and develop individual supply chains to create maximum value at the lowest possible cost for each customer group.
4. Deciding between Fast or Flawless Deliveries – All supply chain costs need to be analyzed together for a unified picture so that operational goals can meet corporate values and brand image. For example, depending on how the data and how company is positioned, the company can choose to move inventory at the lowest possible cost, move goods the fastest way possible regardless of costs, or have the highest possible quality of order fulfillment with zero errors. Having cost data and variables together in one systems enables easy tradeoff analysis.
5. Achieving Preferred Shipper Status – A company that integrates ERP with warehouse management software to optimize transportation processes, such as enabling short dwell-times and long tender lead times, will be a preferred shipper and have an easier time finding capacity because carriers like working with companies that boost their efficiency.
6. Managing the Last Mile of Logistics – The point of delivery reflects the competency of the entire organization. If a company is constantly delivering products late, the customer will have a very negative view of this company and will likely not use their services again. Last mile logistics, the last stretch before delivery, is complicated, costly, and it is often this part of delivery that causes disruptions and delays. Proper integration between transportation and ERP systems assure that the orders go to the correct delivery address and can provide automatic notifications of delivery times, ensuring high delivery performance and consistent customer satisfaction.
7. Expediting On-Line Sales – Shopping carts that can connect seamlessly to shipping provider systems enable shoppers to get an exact price quote for shipping and reliable delivery times. Integrating ERP and third party transportation systems with e-commerce sites can improve customer service, speed invoicing and reduce demands on support teams.
Data integration across systems can help optimize the supply chain, and enable organizations to provide their customers with the best possible service from order to delivery. An integration platform that enables businesses to connect data and processes across systems gives organizations the adaptable IT infrastructure they need to disrupt the supply chain.